Asked & Answered with the Women of Marvel Comics
Get to know ten incredible editors from the Marvel Comics Publishing team!
This week, we had the pleasure of chatting with not one but TEN amazing editors on the Marvel Comics Publishing team: senior editor Lauren Bisom (she/her); editors Sarah Brunstad (she/her) and Alanna Smith (she/her); associate editors Annalise Bissa (she/her) and Caitlin O'Connell (she/her); and assistant editors Lauren Amaro (she/her), Lindsey Cohick (she/her), Kat Gregorowicz (she/her), Kaitlyn Lindtvedt (she/her), and Kaeden McGahey (she/they).
They know a thing or two about collaboration. Based on their recommendations, we have an incredible reading and viewing list that’ll last us the year. They are truly awesome women and nonbinary creators at Marvel. And we had some questions for them.
We asked, they answered.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
Sarah Brunstad: I have a strong morning ritual. I like to get up and make a single cup of coffee with my Aeropress, a very strong cup of coffee. I sit in my front room and I read and watch the birds at the bird feeder while my dog also watches the birds and then naps.
Lindsey Cohick: I have a much more chaotic ritual, which is that I hit snooze about five times. Then I roll out of bed at the last minute and jump into my desk chair.
Lauren Bisom: I do the same as Lindsey. I start checking email around 8:30 on my phone, very close to my face because my contacts aren't in yet and then run to my chair right at 9. In between emails, I make my cup of coffee.
Kat Gregorowicz: I used to be that way and then I got a puppy who requires me to get up. So I now get up an hour earlier and I hate it, but love it. Now I'll make my coffee and take my dog out and still wait till the last minute to then jump in the chair and start looking at emails. And I play Wordle now in the morning.
Kaeden McGahey: Mine is very similar to Kat’s. The dog wakes me up. I take the dog around the block and then I go back to bed until that alarm goes off. I used to do the jump to my desk chair. But I'm from Florida, and this winter it is not it. I've been living in my electric blanket for the past several months and I will continue to do so until the weather is above 50 consistently.
Alanna Smith: I roll out of bed with like an hour and a half before I need to start work so that I can kind of have a breakfast snack. Lately I've been sitting down and re-watching an episode of The Expanse every morning, re-watching it now that it's over, and it still rules just so everyone knows.
Kaitlyn Lindtvedt: I wish I could be that intense, Alanna. I am not a morning person at all. But I also have a cat who is three and therefore cannot tolerate being left alone if she knows I'm awake for any length of time. So normally I get about two snoozes in with the alarm, and then my cat’s like, PAY. ATTENTION. TO. ME. Then I get up, I have a full cup of coffee, and then I log in.
Caitlin O'Connell: I have two cats. I get up, I feed the cats, I go back to bed. My second alarm goes off and then I acquire breakfast and tea and sit down to the emails. The length of time between when the breakfast will actually get eaten and when the “not pajamas” will be achieved really just depends on when the first meeting of the day is.
Lauren Amaro: The first thing I do in the morning is immediately panic and look at what time it is, and then realize that I am a crazy person who sets my alarm for 6:30 with no intention of getting up because I promptly go to sleep for at least another 30 minutes before trying to get caffeine into my system as quick as possible.
Caitlin O'Connell: I mean, in the before times, I had to commute, and so I had to get up at 6:30 if I wanted to conceivably make it to the office by 9:30. And I am no longer about that life.
Lindsey Cohick: Same, Caitlin. I was like, how did I ever get up before 8?
Sarah Brunstad: I actually like getting up early now that I don't have to go to work because I get up at 6:30 and I have this whole stretch where nobody's bothering me. I'm perfectly alone. And then I don't have to sit down until right at 9:30. So I'm into it. That's the holy time for me now.
Lindsey Cohick: In my heart, I’m into it. In my body, I'm not. It refuses to cooperate.
Super-power of Choice?
Alanna Smith: Flight. Because what's cooler? There's nothing cooler; that's the coolest one, so that's my answer.
Kaitlyn Lindtvedt: I would very much argue for the telekinesis type thing. It's still a kind of flying. You're just making other objects fly and you get to look really cool about it.
Caitlin O'Connell: I'm going to go with teleportation because I would never have to commute again, for one thing. I could pop over to London for lunch. What's not to love? It's the most convenient and awesome power, particularly if you can, like, take other people with you.
Lindsey Cohick: I was going to say the same thing, I don't know if it's because Nightcrawler is my favorite X-Man or if he's my favorite X-Man because I love his power, but I dream about being able to teleport places and not have to commute or walk or do anything like that.
Lauren Bisom: You’d save so much money on flights to California; that’d be great.
Kat Gregorowicz: I was also going to say teleportation just because I would love to travel everywhere, but my wallet does not allow me to travel everywhere. So teleportation, definitely.
Lauren Amaro: Either Ms. Marvel's powers or Ant-Man's, anything where I can change size a little bit because the amount of times I've had to climb on the counter at work to get new printer paper… I'd love to not do that anymore just to reach it.
Lauren Bisom: In the vein of special work powers, speed reading would be great.
Kaeden McGahey: My friends and I used to have a game where you’d go on the super hero wiki and then you’d press “random” and whatever you got was your power. The last time we played, I got “inertia canceling” and we were talking about all the cool things that you could do with that, if you like, really studied up on it and explored that power.
Sarah Brunstad: Mine’s going to be fashion; I want to be able to change my clothes at will like Captain Marvel does or always have the perfect hair without having to do any work.
Annalise Bissa: I’d totally go telekinesis.
Caitlin O'Connell: Clearly, we've all spent a lot of time thinking about this. We've got this covered.
What was your favorite book, movie or TV show when you were a kid?
Caitlin O'Connell: Probably surprising absolutely no one, I was the world's largest Lord of the Rings nerd in middle school. So those movies have my entire soul. I was also a big Tamora Pierce kid. I was a big fantasy nerd and still am.
Sarah Brunstad: I also loved Lord of the Rings and would write notes to people in Elvish during school.
Lauren Amaro: A bit controversial, well not really, but I was obsessed with Justice League Unlimited and Batman: The Animated Series growing up. And I think they're still so good. I started re-watching them recently, and it's just a fun time.
Kaitlyn Lindtvedt: No, Lauren, I feel the controversial choices because my household was a really big story household so we had cases of books. We had the TV on all the time. We had music playing all the time. So Justice League was in there a little bit too. But as far as favorites, I have to agree with Caitlin on Tamora Pierce. The Song of the Lioness just wrecked my whole world view. It was great.
Alanna Smith: I was also very into Tamora Pierce because her main character has the same name as me, so that was a big thing for me. But the thing that I really fell in love with, and I'm still in love with, is Bionicle, which was a series of LEGO action figures, and my in to it was with the LEGO Magazine. They sent out actual comics that were narrative-based. And then they released a series of books, which I still have in the next room on my shelf. I just really loved the world. I loved the characters. I was fluent in the written language that was invented for Bionicle.
Kaeden McGahey: My dad is a big nerd, and he got me into Star Wars growing up, but the first thing that I really got myself into was Gargoyles and that has stuck with me ever since.
Sarah Brunstad: Super bisexual-energy; love that show.
Kaeden McGahey: I was just about to make a joke; if I had to pick a dude, Goliath is mine
Kat Gregorowicz: I was really into the anime Inuyasha to the point where I collected all the figurines and had the backpack. I was that kid. I was also super into Pokémon and still am. Actually, my fiancé and I have started catching up on all the stuff on Netflix of Pokémon. It still gets me going when I see Bulbasaur on-screen because he's my favorite.
Lauren Bisom: Not Tamora Pierce but another fantasy writer of the 80s is Robin McKinley. She wrote The Blue Sword. I don't read many things more than once that that one I think I've read too many times to count.
Lindsey Cohick: I was huge into anime and manga as a kid, so I graduated from Pokémon to Digimon to Yu-Gi-Oh and then back to Digimon. That was probably my favorite overall. But I also loved Lord of the Rings. Harry Potter was probably my favorite book. Anything related to magic or witchcraft, I was there. You had my interest. And Pirates of the Caribbean was, and still is, one of my favorite movies.
Lauren Amaro: Lindsey, I think you were the first person I've ever met who also loved Digimon so I will be bothering you about that later.
Alanna Smith: Me too, me too, me too.
Lindsey Cohick: The Digimon fan club is now formed here.
Kaitlyn Lindtvedt: Anyone have Fruits Basket opinions? DM me.
Kaeden McGahey: Oh girl, I will.
Annalise Bissa: Trying to get work extra-credit here, but my thing that I was really into as a kid was X-Men. I am just who I am here. Also, as a child, we watched a lot of movies, specifically a lot of Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals.
What's your favorite book, movie or TV show now?
Sarah Brunstad: For me, it's The Dark Tower. I have a half sleeve tattoo, and I reread them every few years. Pretty obsessed with you.
Alanna Smith: The one that I always come back to you, and therefore, just by default, is my favorite is Ouran High School Host Club. It's perfect from start to finish. And I also read the manga, which was even more perfect somehow. Whenever I try to think of something that I would put above it, there's nothing.
Kat Gregorowicz: I have that same energy about Fruits Basket and Demon Slayer. Fruits Basket has been an ongoing thing since I was younger, but the reboot of the anime has been perfect. And then I'm also really into SFSX. It's just great about gender-, sexuality- fluidity. Everything about it is so great and it’s also in a dystopian world. It's gory too. And I’m super into The Witcher. I love Henry Cavill as Geralt.
Kaeden McGahey: Gargoyles has not left the rotation for me, but right now, The Locked Tomb series by Tamsyn Muir has an absolute choke hold on me. She put a butch lesbian with a sword on the cover of the first book, and I said, I'm here; I feel fine. And then, Xena: Warrior Princess is coming to mind partially because I am forcing my partner to watch it for the first time.
Lauren Amaro: The Gentleman Bastard series by Scott Lynch. It's been a while since I've started a book and just could not put it down. Every time I'm doing something else, I’m like, Man, I wish I was reading this so I can figure out what happens next. So that was a very fun series to get into.
Lauren Bisom: During the pandemic, this last January and February I actually found my way into books again, and recently read Jordan Ifueko’s Raybearer – couldn't put it down. I may have had some—ehem—extended lunches while I was reading it. Then I stayed up way too late this weekend reading Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley.
Annalise Bissa: My all-time favorite movie is Moonstruck with Cher and Nicolas Cage. Recently I made my way through “The Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries” series. I never thought I was a mystery reader and I never thought of myself as somebody who liked reading things from the 1920s and 1930s. But they’re really, really funny and weird and mean and great in a lot of ways that you don't expect books from the 20s to be.
Kaitlyn Lindtvedt: I definitely am on board with the Fruits Basket reboot hype. It's perfect; I love it. I tend to ingest shows like popcorn, so that's been a lot of my 2021. I'm currently forcing my friends to watch WandaVision because I loved it. And then for books, I recently tackled NK Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy. She is just my absolute favorite author at the moment. She's incredible. She can do no wrong.
Lindsey Cohick: My favorite movie, again, probably still – Pirates of the Caribbean. It's a thrill, a joy and delight every time I watch it. And then my favorite TV show, in recent memory, is Black Sails, which is also pirate-themed. Lauren Amaro is the only other person I've met in person who has independently watched that show; not someone who I've made watch it.
Caitlin O'Connell: I'm not I'm not a big re-reader, but I have re-read The Night Circus a ridiculous number of times and I have re-read Beetle & the Hollowbones, a ridiculous number of times. They're completely different books. One is adult historical fantasy that the writing is just like, how dare you string sentences together so well; this is unfair. Beetle & the Hollowbones is a middle grade graphic novel that's cute and spooky at the same time. They're both perfect in very different ways, and I love them very much. And currently, my pandemic comfort fixation is Doctor Who. It's a problem. Also, very excited for Season 2 of Gentleman Jack. That's going to be it.
Lauren Amaro: Before we fully move on, I feel like I'd be remiss not to mention my deep love of Pacific Rim and the fact that I watch it annually on my birthday. I cried the first time I saw it in theaters. It is a perfect movie. I recognize the flaws and I see none of them.
On Halloween, which super hero costume gets all the candy at your house?
Annalise Bissa: Every time I see somebody cosplaying Storm, it just makes my day. I have to assume that that would be like a quadruple reaction if a Storm came to my house.
Kaitlyn Lindtvedt: I have to say I've never seen a Scarlet Witch costume appear at my door, but if one did, they'd get the whole bucket of candy and some of the Pop-Tarts from my cupboard.
Sarah Brunstad: I'm really into family costumes. Once I saw a dad dressed as Hawkeye and the little girl was dressed as Black Widow, and the other one was Winter Soldier. I was like, yes, absolutely. Proof of franchise.
Alanna Smith: If a little Winter Soldier came up to me, I would lose my entire mind.
Lauren Amaro: I’ve got to agree with Sarah, the group costumes are pretty cute. I’m a triplet, and we have a little brother, so my mom was very good about the group costumes growing up. Super Hero answer – I think Venom because the idea of a tiny, little horrifying monster is so cute. But I think my favorite costumes are the kids who just decide they want to be ordinary objects for whatever reason. Like, I'm going to be a telephone this year. It's just so cute to me.
Annalise Bissa: My mom made me a bag of jelly beans one year in elementary school. And then another year I was a roll of Smarties and I could not sit. I had to stand in the corner of the room.
What is the key to collaboration?
Lindsey Cohick: Compromise. People who are willing to let go of their ideas and listen to the ideas of other people.
Annalise Bissa: I would add on to that and say communication. It’s a pretty baseline one, but so often people are just making up what they think is going on with other people, whether it's their collaborators or their editors, and deciding before they ask the question what the response will be. The more you have that open line of communication–respectful communication–the better off you're going to be.
Alanna Smith: Yeah, respect for your collaborators is a very big thing. Respect for their time, respect for whatever discipline that they work in. I've mostly seen collaborations fall apart when one member did not have the proper respect for what another member of the team was doing. But if you can maintain that respect and keep things amicable, it goes much smoother.
Kat Gregorowicz: In that same vein, understanding that the people you're working with are people and getting to know them outside of work. We're all on tight deadlines, but sometimes it's nice to get to know them and their interests and what makes them work harder and their passions. I know I've had better relationships collaborating with other artists and writers when we have a relationship, not just in the work setting.
Kaeden McGahey: Also, pulling from my theater background, walking into the room and reminding yourself that you are not the smartest person in the room and that the idea that is the golden ticket, the thing that's going to bring it all together, it can come from anywhere and anyone, regardless of how experienced they are, regardless of what department they're in. Keep those doors open and check your ego.
Lauren Amaro: Flexibility is pretty big. There's always going to be unknown challenges that get thrown at you last minute. That’s the nature of the work we do and being able to roll with those punches and figure out, Okay, well, how do we solve for this problem? How do we get what we need to get done? is a lot more useful than just raging at the problem or getting stalled out. So having people on the team who are on that same wavelength and who can adjust on the fly is always great.
Sarah Brunstad: Trusting your collaborators and your editors. Especially in a world where we have all this social media, so much of which can be negative and so much of it is a reminder of how things can go wrong. It's super easy to forget that for every scandal that you see pop up on Twitter or whatever, that's an extreme exception to the rule. Almost all the time it goes smoothly and it goes well. Remember that you're here to make fun comics. It's supposed to be a fun job. Trust your collaborators and try to have a good time and assume that everybody is on your side because 99% of the time, that's true.
Kaitlyn Lindtvedt: Coming from a new employee perspective: honesty and asking questions, too.
Wheel of Fortune or Jeopardy?
Caitlin O'Connell: Jeopardy!
Kaitlyn Lindtvedt: Jeopardy!
Kat Gregorowicz: Wheel of Fortune.
Lauren Amaro: Jeopardy
Kaeden McGahey: My only reality TV show is Forged in Fire
Kat Gregorowicz: The Price is Right.
Lauren Bisom: Price is Right.
Lauren Amaro: I'd love to go join Kaeden over Forged in Fire.
Alanna Smith: Yeah, let's make some knives.
Caitlin O'Connell: I'll be over here in the Bake-Off tent.
In an alternate universe, what would your alternate job be?
Lauren Bisom: If my mother had her way, a librarian.
Kaeden McGahey: I was also going to say a librarian, I was a librarian last year. I really dug it. It was just very relaxing as opposed to teaching and more financially stable than when I thought I wanted to be an actor.
Alanna Smith: There's an alternate universe in which I actually did pursue interior design and probably quit five years in because I got frustrated with having to appease other people's tastes.
Kaitlyn Lindtvedt: Until I was 16, I was pretty convinced I was going to be a rock star. I played drums, I sang, I did the whole nine yards. Then, a bunch of my favorite women in the industry got done super dirty pretty publicly by their labels all around the same time, and I started learning more about sexism in the industry. And I was like, you know what, never mind.
Lauren Amaro: I decided that I wanted to be a comic book editor when I was 18 and didn't know what that meant or how to do it. I had a business minor because the backup plan was to own and run a comic shop. And if that didn't work, the backup-backup was to go to law school and focus on intellectual property law and do work somewhat related to comics. But Annalise was a lot closer to that being a reality than I was.
Annalise Bissa: I took the LSAT and I was going to go to law school when Marvel came knocking. So that was that, and then I often say that when I'm 50, I'm going to make a career pivot and be a wedding planner.
Kat Gregorowicz: I would definitely be a pro gamer or popular streamer.
Sarah Brunstad: It would probably be getting involved in farming or otherwise working in cities to do urban planning around food deserts and food justice issues.
Lindsey Cohick: I got a master's degree in international relations, so there was a point at which I was thinking about doing something with that. I quickly pivoted to comics, but I do think about environmental work. However, as a kid my dream job was to be an ice skater. I don't know why, except that I really liked their costumes.
Caitlin O'Connell: There might be an alternate universe in which I was not rejected from every college I applied to for musical theater. And I am in fact, on Broadway. But what happened was I was instead accepted for writing, which was the much better choice. So maybe in an alternate future, I will be a full-time author. And that that would also be pretty sweet.
Which Marvel character would you road trip with? And which one would you kick out of the car at the first red light?
Sarah Brunstad: I would definitely want to go with Carol Danvers. It's kind of on my mind because we're doing a road trip issue that just went to print last week. But she's sort of ideal and she can cut loose. She can be really silly, but also if something goes bad, girl’s definitely the person who will be like, OK, I'm the sober driver. Everybody's getting home. I've counted all the names. And I think the first person I would kick out is Thor and I think we all know why.
Alanna Smith: I would keep Nightcrawler, I know he can teleport everywhere, which is why I feel like he'd appreciate a road trip. He's also just one of the sweetest people in the Marvel U. And unfortunately, I would kick out one of my favorite characters, who is Quicksilver, because he would be insufferable having to drive somewhere. He can walk on his own.
Caitlin O'Connell: I would definitely take Squirrel Girl because she's hilarious and very resourceful and is definitely going to bring good snacks.
Kaeden McGahey: I would go with Doug and Warlock. I think they would be a fun duo to go on a road trip with, and no matter where we are, Cypher can always do some translations so we don't have to worry about being lost. Kick out - Doctor Doom is objectively the worst person to go on a road trip with.
Lindsey Cohick: I’m having trouble thinking of who I would keep because I think most of my favorite characters are also people who I would not want to be in a confined space with for a long period of time. But I would probably keep Ms. Marvel, Miles, someone fun who can take it easy and who is also a super hero and has useful powers in case anything goes wrong. I’d probably kick out my favorites – Loki, probably Thor.
Kaitlyn Lindtvedt: I would try really hard to keep Loki just because on a good day he’s a really fun character. But it would be like, how many tantrums can I deal with before it's time to be done? I think someone that I would kick out right away, though, as much as I love him, is Vision. He's too serious. You’ve got to be able to have some kind of fun on a road trip, and he just can't.
Lauren Bisom: Kick out Star-Lord because I feel like he would just take over the playlist. No one else would be able to have say.
Kat Gregorowicz: I would keep Spider-Woman just because she keeps it real and also can get crazy at the same time. And that's what a road trip is about. She's spontaneous enough. And then I would have to kick Emma Frost, even though I love her, just because she would be way too high maintenance for what my road trip would be. So sorry, Emma, you got to stay home.
Mantra or quote that keeps you going?
Kaeden McGahey: When times are tough, I often tell myself, "At least I'm not in middle school anymore."
Kaitlyn Lindtvedt: Oof, there are several, but I think the one I've come back to in every line of work I've done has been "Be the person you needed when you were younger." And I think that can mean a lot of different things depending on context and the different situations we encounter across the various spheres of our lives, but ultimately, it's be kind to yourself and to others, always be open to learning, and do the most good you can.
Annalise Bissa: It's a bit overexposed these days, but there really is nothing like the 'Man in the Arena' speech, given by Teddy Roosevelt. The piece in the middle ("who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions;") is a pretty solid snapshot of my approach to life.
Alanna Smith: There's a really incredible quote from Welcome to Night Vale about accepting our own limitations that I come back to a lot when I feel like I've hit a wall--it goes, "Within our limitations, there is no limit to how beautiful we can become, how much of our ideal self we can create. All the beauty in the world was made within the oppressive limitations of time, and death, and impermanence." It's something I need to be reminded of a lot, because I hate feeling limited!
Kat Gregorowicz: I live by Uncle Iroh quotes from Avatar the Last Airbender; this is one of my favorites to remember, "It is important to draw wisdom from many different places.”
Sarah Brunstad: "Stay with the trouble." Forgive a former academic: I'm paraphrasing Donna Haraway's Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulcene, which argues against doom-scroll predictions of dystopia and instead points people toward symbiotic futures. Living is "trouble"; our entanglement with other beings is "trouble." When we "stay with the trouble," we embrace our entanglement with others and the natural world, we embrace cycles of life and death, and we commit to compassion and empathy. When I'm frustrated with the state of the world or the state of the industry, I try to remind myself to stay in it, to keep going when it would be easy to give up on myself and others.
Lindsey Cohick: I have a few different mantras for different occasions, but one of my favorites—and the one that lifts me up the most when I'm down—is from Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. It's when Frodo says, "What are we holding onto, Sam?" and Sam says, "That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it's worth fighting for." It's easy to get bogged down by all of the bad things in the world. Whenever I start to feel too weighted down by it all, I just hear Sam's voice in my head saying, "There's good in this world, and it's worth fighting for," and it helps me to keep trying to make the world a better place, in any way that I can.
Best thing about being a Woman or Nonbinary Creator of Marvel?
Kaeden McGahey: The best thing in general is now my partner has to put up with me talking about comics and actually READ comics now because they want to support me. The second best is having a hand in shaping the stories of characters I've loved for most of life.
Kaitlyn Lindtvedt: Being here!! Like I said, I'm still very new so the shock (in a good way!) hasn't quite worn off yet, but I feel so privileged to be able to do an amazing job with such amazing and talented people.
Annalise Bissa: Getting to tell stories about incredible characters with incredible creators. It's never lost on me how lucky I am to get to be a part of the creative process for some of the best storytellers in the world.
Alanna Smith: There are a lot of us now, and everyone is so rad! I feel incredibly lucky to have so many amazing female colleagues and friends here. I'm super proud of all of them and it's a huge joy rooting them on and watching them succeed.
Kat Gregorowicz: Getting to take space in a predominately male work field. I think not enough women/nonbinary people feel like they can or should. So, it’s great to feel the presence of that here with the other creators, and that we can have some impact.
Sarah Brunstad: We're changing the world!!! For real though. In my comparatively brief time at Marvel, I have seen so many women and queer people step up and make positive change. It's a different place to work than it was even 10 years ago, and I'm so happy to be a little part of that.
Lindsey Cohick: It's an incredible opportunity to work on stories that tens of thousands (sometimes hundreds of thousands) of people might read. And being a woman creator of Marvel is extra special because I get to work alongside so many other wonderful women and nonbinary creators of Marvel and help carve out a space for us that hasn't always been there, elevating our storytelling to even greater heights.
Pick up WOMEN OF MARVEL (2022) #1, on sale at your local comic shop now!
MacKenzie Cadenhead (she/her) is a children’s book author and an old school (Read: former) Marvel editor — not old-old but let’s just say she knew Gwen Stacy when she was dead. She co-authors the "Marvel Super-Hero Adventures" chapter book series for young readers and is a proud Woman of Marvel. You can see what she’s up to over at Instagram @mackenziecadenhead.
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